If you’re like the average college student, you probably don’t sleep enough. You also probably have an infinite number of things that you’d rather be doing instead of sleeping, and almost none of those are studying. From extracurriculars, to hangouts with friends, to parties, to study groups that became Cards Against Humanity sessions, college may seem like a great time to stock up on the energy drinks and see just how many hours you can get out of one day. (It’s a lot.) Three hours of sleep, two hours of sleep, periodic 30-minute naps—the lengths to which college students will go to avoid sleep are extensive. And for a while, you might think you’re getting away with a life-hack that the rest of the world should catch up with, but be aware: insufficient sleep will impact your grades, your moods, and ultimately your health.
Don’t believe us? Here are five reasons college students should really, definitely be getting more sleep.
1. Mental health risks
College students are already a high-risk group for mental health concerns like anxiety and depression due to the high-stress environment of college. A lack of sleep will only exacerbate these issues and can cause further concerns like insomnia, constant fatigue, sleeping too much, shortness of breath, and trouble enjoying activities or relationships because you’re too tired to engage. A lack of sleep can cause your brain to become much more susceptible to these issues.
2. Physical health concerns
Sleep deprivation can impact the way your immune system functions, so when you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to fight off infections and other diseases becomes compromised. If you’re regularly sleep-deprived, you’ll be more likely to get a cold or the flu, and may feel constantly tired and run down. Also, lack of sleep has been shown to cause weight gain and obesity. When you don’t sleep you crave high-calorie foods, and tend to eat more of them as a biological survival mechanism. As such, long stretches of sleep deprivation can lead to significant health problems later on.
3. Impacts on academic performance
Lack of sleep can also cause your GPA some serious issues. Whether it’s a missed deadline, a late paper, or just simply lower grades due to brain fatigue and exhaustion, not sleeping can definitely negatively affect your grades. It might be worth skipping that all-nighter before a test to cram so that your alertness, concentration, and ability to recall information will be higher the next day and you might actually score better. Research shows that students who sleep 8 or more hours have an overall higher GPA than those who do not get enough sleep.
4. Memory and information retention
Sleeping more actually helps you learn better, as well. During sleep, the brain organizes all the information it learned that day and decides what to keep and what to discard. If you’re not letting your brain process and “save” your important information, there’s a much higher chance those important history dates are going to get discarded next time you pass out for a quick nap.
5. Dangers of continued fatigue
Continuing to go without sleep can be dangerous. Whether it’s drowsy driving, which is a huge health hazard, or compromised performance as an athlete, if you continue to go without sleep you could seriously injure yourself. You may not think you can avoid a car crash by getting a solid 8-hour night, but it definitely helps. Being alert as you drive is an absolute necessity. The same goes for high-contact sports like football—if you’re not able to pay full attention, someone could get hurt.
If you aren’t convinced yet, you might need a nap. As you can see, getting a full night’s sleep is extremely important for your mental and physical well-being, even in college. There are no cheat codes and no special hacks to get in more study time. You have to sleep if you want to retain information and keep yourself healthy, which in turn will help you keep your GPA up.
If you’re still having trouble getting to sleep, sleeping well, or staying asleep for the full 7-8 hours, don’t be afraid to seek help. Sleep Science Clinics can help you sleep better: more often and more soundly. Give us a call, or sign up for a personal sleep study today!